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Which chains last the longest?

Old 03-20-14, 02:28 AM
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Which chains last the longest?

I just replaced the KMC X8.93 after 1,042 miles, based on chain stretch. I've bought all grades of Shimano (I have Shimano cassettes and chainrings), SRAMs, KMC, and forgotten others. I clean and lubricate them semi-monthly, which is about every 200 miles.

Should I expect better wear from the more expensive models?

Is there a good reason to use only Shimano chains with Shimano gears?

I can buy stainless steel chains for a huge premium: do they last longer?

I don't care about weight or friction or any characteristic other than wear.
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Old 03-20-14, 02:43 AM
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Cheaper chains may last longer. I tried stainless and regular one and don't see any difference. Shimano chain will work great with Shimano cassette, but even as a huge fan of Shimano brand - I'm using compatibile SRAM chains because I love their quick links.
Since you are asking about the wear - Shimano chain on my 8 speed cassette was lasting 1000-1500 miles. Sram seems to last much longer. Call me crazy, but I replace my chain every 2000 miles, even if it's in a perfect shape /measured with a chain tool/.
If you ride in mud, wet or you don't lube your chain often enough - expect faster wear.
I pay $10-$18 for my chains, so it's not a big expense, and with SRAM links it's incredibly easy to change it.
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Old 03-20-14, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by RandomTroll
I just replaced the KMC X8.93 after 1,042 miles, based on chain stretch. I've bought all grades of Shimano (I have Shimano cassettes and chainrings), SRAMs, KMC, and forgotten others. I clean and lubricate them semi-monthly, which is about every 200 miles.

Should I expect better wear from the more expensive models?

Is there a good reason to use only Shimano chains with Shimano gears?

I can buy stainless steel chains for a huge premium: do they last longer?

I don't care about weight or friction or any characteristic other than wear.
Interesting, I use KMC X9 chains (the cheapest ones I can get) and usually get 2-3000 miles out of them. I'm far from a light delicate rider - I weigh about 250 and still have something of a tendency to mash the pedals a bit.
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Old 03-20-14, 05:22 AM
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RT, How and where the bicycle is used has the most impact on chain life IME. Chains on my distance bike would last ~5K miles while at the other extreme the mountain bike's chain could only last an estimated 6-700 miles. A commuter might be somewhere in the middle?

I use different levels of Shimano and SRAM chains and have so for years. Shifting performance with a 3X9 Ultegra is smoother with a Shimano chain rather than a SRAM chain, primarily shifting up from the 30T to the 42T chain ring where in an 8S version of the same drivetrain there was no difference I could detect. Within a brand I don't see any difference between low and upper tier chain's longevity, but I've never really studied the subject.

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Old 03-20-14, 05:27 AM
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"...based on chain stretch."

How did you determine this? Chain checkers are often pessimistic regarding chain wear, I use and recommend a good steel rule instead.
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Old 03-20-14, 07:22 AM
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According to test data from Wippermann, chain life can very by almost 3:1 best to worst. However the cost difference best to worst is greater than 3:1 so the best is more expensive to run. There may be other considerations, and with longer life offsetting the cost difference you might still prefer to run better chains. If you factor sprocket wear costs, better chains can come out less costly, but things get pretty muddy.

Rather than worry about which chains are better or cheaper, focus on getting the maximum life out of any chain with good chain care and a good lubricant suited to local riding conditions. There's no need to go crazy, and some people who wash and oil their chains frequently do worse than others who put less effort into maintenance.

Also, don't compare your chain life to that of others because other factors not in your control, such as rider weight, average speed, terrain and weather can make a bigger difference than anything else, including which chain you buy.
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Old 03-20-14, 07:27 AM
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Remember to also keep your cassette and chainrings in good shape. If they are worn significantly, that affects chain wear, too.

I don't keep track of miles year-year, but I assume I get about 1-2000 miles on my MTB chain, but its ridden on a canal path not mud! I've never owned a road bike chain and put enough miles on it to actually NEED to replace them (I've just replaced them when I felt like it...)
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Old 03-20-14, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by RandomTroll
I clean and lubricate them semi-monthly, which is about every 200 miles.
How you clean and lubricate you chains can have a major influence on chain life. Soaking them in water based cleaners followed by inadequate drying can wear out a chain in pretty short order. A lot of chains are killed by kindness.
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Old 03-20-14, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider
How you clean and lubricate you chains can have a major influence on chain life. Soaking them in water based cleaners followed by inadequate drying can wear out a chain in pretty short order. A lot of chains are killed by kindness.
I sand-blast them: gets them nice & shiny!
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Old 03-20-14, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr
"...based on chain stretch."

How did you determine this? Chain checkers are often pessimistic regarding chain wear, I use and recommend a good steel rule instead.
Laser.
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Old 03-20-14, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
According to test data from Wippermann chain life can very by almost 3:1 best to worst.
Where may I find this data?

Originally Posted by FBinNY
focus on getting the maximum life out of any chain with good chain care and a good lubricant suited to local riding conditions.
Wash with White Lightning, lubricate with chain-l - any good? I'm in Albuquerque; perhaps chain-l only for NY?

Originally Posted by FBinNY
don't compare your chain life to that of others because other factors not in your control, such as rider weight, average speed, terrain and weather can make a bigger difference than anything else, including which chain you buy.
Wasn't gonna: I hoped correspondents would compare their experience with chain a with their experience with chain b.
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Old 03-20-14, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by RandomTroll
Where may I find this data?
You didn't look very hard. I searched "wippermann chain wear test" and it came up on the first page. But here's a hyperlink. From there there are links to a video, and to the actual test data graphs.


Originally Posted by RandomTroll
Wash with White Lightning, lubricate with chain-l - any good? I'm in Albuquerque; perhaps chain-l only for NY?
There's little to gain, and much to lose mixing lubes with different bases. Use a straight solvent, such as OMS or naphtha to clean chains, dry them properly, then use the lube of your choice. As for Chain-L. I developed it for conditions in the Northeast, but it gets excellent reviews from all over the southwest. I believe we have 3 dealers in ABQ so that's some validation for that area.



Originally Posted by RandomTroll
Wasn't gonna: I hoped correspondents would compare their experience with chain a with their experience with chain b.
Problem is that there are too many variables, so there's no reliable answer. For every person who loves a specific chain there are three who hate it. Overall, I believe that you get the best performance, wear and value with the best chains below the ones with top end features such as nicer plating or punched links. That gets you A-level quality at C-level pricing. As I said, it's not only about chain price and life, but the lift and costs of the sprockets also.
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Old 03-20-14, 02:29 PM
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I wonder what is the impact of a very long lasting chain on a cassette and crank chain rings...
My crank cost $70, cassette $30 and chain around $15. I would rather keep replacing my cheap chain than other more expensive components.
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Old 03-20-14, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by lopek77
I wonder what is the impact of a very long lasting chain on a cassette and crank chain rings...
My crank cost $70, cassette $30 and chain around $15. I would rather keep replacing my cheap chain than other more expensive components.
You aparently don't get the wear process. A longer lasting chain stays unstretched longer, so it imposes less wear on the sprockets. By replacing chains (unless you do so very early) you're subjecting the sprockets to alternating stretched and unstretched chains, which is harder on them then one continuous, long, slow wear cycle.

OTOH- if you rotate three low cost chains on a regular basis, the wear pattern better duplicates a single long wearing chain.
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Old 03-20-14, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
...if you rotate three low cost chains on a regular basis, that the wear pattern better duplicated a single long wearing chain.
Exquisite!
This is an obvious solution. "Obvious," that is, now that you have written it.

Thank you, from a humble Chain-L user.
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Old 03-20-14, 03:10 PM
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I guess I'm not. I also didn't notice any difference when using 1st, 2nd and 3rd chain on the same cassette. I change my cassette after 3rd chain, and chains even if they are still perfectly good. But that's just me.
I think that this topic is similar to the "which chain lube is the best"
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Old 03-20-14, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
You didn't look very hard.
I didn't look at all. This page's links to further tests are 401.

Originally Posted by FBinNY
There's little to gain, and much to lose mixing lubes with different bases.
I didn't. I used White Lightning's degreaser to clean, then wiped and dried the chain thoroughly; I didn't use WL's lubricant.

Originally Posted by FBinNY
Problem is that there are too many variables, so there's no reliable answer. For every person who loves a specific chain there are three who hate it.
Sometimes I learn from what people report, even if they contradict each other.


Originally Posted by FBinNY
I believe that you get the best performance, wear and value with the best chains below the ones with top end features such as nicer plating or punched links. That gets you A-level quality at C-level pricing.
What are those chains? Connex has $125 chains; KMC has $8 chains. I shop in the $10 to $30 range; if a $100 chain would last 10K miles I'd buy it.

What good is nicer plating? Does it have value other than appearance? I've never had a problem with rust.

What good are punched links? Less friction, less likely to break? I've never had a chain break except the times I didn't mount it properly. I don't care about the difference in friction between a $10 chain and a $100 chain: I won't ever win the race.


Originally Posted by FBinNY
As I said, it's not only about chain price and life, but the lift and costs of the sprockets also.
What's lift? To the best of my ability to tell I've only damaged the teeth of chainrings or cassette cogs by using worn chains.
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Old 03-20-14, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by RandomTroll
I didn't look at all. This page's links to further tests are 401.
You're right about the page's link, but if you click on the wear graph you'll link to a data page, and a larger cleaner copy of the graph.

Originally Posted by RandomTroll
I didn't. I used White Lightning's degreaser to clean, then wiped and dried the chain thoroughly; I didn't use WL's lubricant.
Sorry, when folks say White Lightning, I think the lube. The cleaner is below my radar. What you're doing is fine, unless WL changed from the solvent (smells like brake cleaner) I remember. Naphtha is cheaper and less irritating if you want to change when you run out, but not as aggressive as the stuff in WL.

Originally Posted by RandomTroll
What are those chains? Connex has $125 chains; KMC has $8 chains. I shop in the $10 to $30 range; if a $100 chain would last 10K miles I'd buy it.
.

Product lined keep changing, and I buy in bulk, so it's been a while since last bought any. My 10s chains were KMC, I think about 2-3 from the top. I think they're most like the X10L. But like you I don't pay the premium for top chains, since it's a bad bargain. Instead I rotate multiple chains. I use 9s nickle plated Wippermanns for the commuter. (mainly beacuse I still have stock left over from my days as a Wippermann distributor.

Originally Posted by RandomTroll
What good is nicer plating? Does it have value other than appearance? I've never had a problem with rust.
As I said, I buy the top chain BELOW the ones with better plating or punched plates. Generally that gets the better materials, but not the fancy features. Sometimes you have to experiment, and some makers use the same material and HT specs on all chains, so the cheapest version is as good as the best. I have realtionships with some makers, so I can ask if the materials are the same or not.

Originally Posted by RandomTroll
What's lift?.....
A typo. I have limited use of my left hand so miss keys from time to time.
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Old 03-21-14, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
Product lined keep changing, and I buy in bulk, so it's been a while since last bought any. My 10s chains were KMC
Place I buy from will sell me 25 KMCs for $160; that's about 5 years' worth at 1,000miles/chain. Then again it's the price of 1 top-of-the-line Connex chain.

Those results from Wipperman had the best (?) Shimano nearly as good. I can buy the best Shimano chain now (and hope quality hasn't changed; the models in 2010 aren't around now.)

Originally Posted by FBinNY
I rotate multiple chains.
I check semi-monthly and replace when I reach 0.5% stretch.


Originally Posted by FBinNY
I buy the top chain BELOW the ones with better plating or punched plates.
What's better about better plating and punched plates? What's better about stainless steel if you don't have rust problem?
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Old 03-21-14, 01:04 AM
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Originally Posted by RandomTroll
What's better about better plating and punched plates? What's better about stainless steel if you don't have rust problem?
Me and my buddy use the same cheap chain - 8 speed Sram. I ride year long - wet, cold, hot and salty, and I like to replace my chain every 2000 miles. He rides his MTB around 300-400 miles a year. My chain NEVER got rusty, his IS rusty The secret is in lubing it as needed, which is not a big deal and don't take a lot of time.

I like ProLink that last a very long time. It lasted over 100 miles of non stop pouring rain. When everything was dry the next day, chain was clean, still very quiet, and ready for another 50 miles. I'm amazed what little oil can do.

I'm a Clydesdale, and I'm not easy on my components. Cheap chain works very well for me, so no need to buy "fancy", "better" made plates, SS and so on, especially if my cheap chain lasts 2000k miles without "stretching".
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Old 03-21-14, 08:58 PM
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Looking at that Wippemann data a big part of the difference is many of those chains (SRAM in particular) were off-spec length out of the box. Also like how they measure length at a specified chain tension -- don't know how the home mech can duplicate that (as a diagnostic).

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Old 03-21-14, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by scott967
... Also like how they measure length at a specified chain tension -- don't know how the home mech can duplicate that (as a diagnostic).
Chain tension stretch isn't all that much except at very high loads, so the easy way to get consistent results at home is to imobilize the rear wheel, press on a pedal to pull out all the free slack, (maybe 10-20#s pedal pressure) and measure the chain. You'd have to be applying pedal pressures in the hundred#+ range to actually stretch the chain enough to matter.
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Old 03-21-14, 09:34 PM
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Keep your chain maintained, lubed and dry and it will last a lifetime. I am a big fan of the Hollowpin chains. Perhaps biased because when they finally got too expensive to afford regularly, I learned how to properly take care of my drive train.
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Old 03-22-14, 01:11 AM
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buying cheaper chains will feel less precious so you can replace them more often,
and save wear on the cogs and chainrings


& wide 1/8" that is not bent sideways to shift , will last longer than a chain for derailleur bikes ..
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Old 03-22-14, 10:16 AM
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Chain life is a function of maintenance. Chain care, wear and skipping by Jobst Brandt
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